Tag Archives: The Sun Magazine

Month in Review

For such a tender, fresh young time of year, May does a lot of heavy lifting. This month seemed both interminable and swift. We’ve been running hard, and every moment has felt as though it’s not full enough to get things done. I’m a big believer in slowing down, taking time, not having every moment scheduled. However, this has also been the month where I am at the mercy of my responsibilities. I’m limping into summer.

That is not to say that there have not been remarkable, wonderful, life-changing experiences this May.  I’m trying to craft the life I want now that my focus has changed, my responsibilities are shifting, and my children will soon all be in school for a full day. My small family and dear friends have been a beautiful, central, and necessary part of this month, and I’ve snuck in, quite purposefully, moments of art and beauty. It has been a month of shaking off the old, and insisting on the new.

Here are some highlights from May:

  • A short film that a fabulous and gifted friend and I wrote finally got filmed. For three days this month, I saw our words put into motion and got to work with some of the most talented, creative, hard-working, brilliant professionals I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with. The cast and crew were far more experienced than I, which is the best situation for me to be. I listened. I watched. I learned. I loved every minute of it. In addition to being cowriter, I functioned as executive producer. I started a production company called Melted Butter Productions. Onset, my job was largely to make sure people were fed and to stay out of their way, two things I’m fairly good at. It was a steep learning curve, and I loved every second of it, even the long hours, hard work, forms, and red tape. Right now the film is being edited and turned into something greater than the sum of its parts. I am thankful to have a team of people who I not only trust but who I so enjoyed working with. More on that project as it blooms.
  • I’ve written here about the life-altering, wonderful, affirming, much-needed experience that was Listen To Your Mother. It’s hard to believe that that was only a few weeks ago. The LTYM show was one of the greatest days of my life and the experience introduced me to some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. There is something about sharing this experience with other storytellers and writers that created bonds at the heart-level.
  • My daughter finished up preschool and will be starting kindergarten fall. May meant several transition activities, grounding us in this new part of our lives. I have one foot in the Slow Down! camp and another in the Spread Your Wings And Fly, Little Girl! camp.
  • For the twins, there were concerts, portfolio nights, and school events almost every day. My boys will be going to a new building in the same district this next year. It’s not so much a graduation as it is a transition, so my feet are in two camps with them as well. Exciting times to come.
  • One son started playing baseball this spring and his team has made it to the semifinals. The child has learned so much in a few short months, all things one would hope baseball or any group activity would teach: determination, focus, teamwork, shaking off bad moments, celebrating good. That’s a W.
  • My father turned 75 this month. There was much cake. That is also a W.

  • My sweet dog who is around 11 years old struggles with his health. We are spoiling him rotten and keeping an eye on him. His quality of life is our guide.
  • I’ve been knitting again. My daughter wants a new blanket and I stupidly agreed to do it. Now it’s a thing. A huge, boring, have-to-pay-just-enough-attention, why-did-I-knit-this-in-worsted-weight thing.
  • I have been writing more these last few days with a new routine and a new focus that I will expound on in a different blog entry. So far so good. But of course, all bets are off for summer. I assume the first day of vacation will trounce all over my happy writing plan and I will have a few more months of squeezing it in between special moments of asking the kids for the millionth time to close the door.
  • I have been catching up on the stack of magazines I have. Are you familiar with The Sun magazine? It’s absolutely brilliant. I just finished the September 2016 issue and have not been able to stop thinking about more than a few pieces in there, notably “#WeAreHarryChang” by Thomas Lee (oooh! You can read it here! Do it!)
  • A little late, but listening to season two of Big Magic podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her voice is sunshine, and her message is positive without being treacly or saccharine.
  • Finally watched Moonlight. Mahershala Ali earned that Oscar and probably another two or three. What a performance in quite a haunting film.
  • Also saw The Words, which was not as haunting, but an interesting play on that old chestnut of what happens when first we practice to deceive.
  • The best discovery this month is the National Geographic series, Genius.   It’s a fascinating, unblinking biography of Albert Einstein. Warts and all. Please tell me you are watching – I’m dying to talk about this show, especially the role of his wife Mileva. A biography of her wouldn’t have been uncalled for. Can you imagine an entire series of shows about underappreciated, unsung wives throughout history?

Deep breaths now as we waltz into June, a month of sweet berries and cannonballs, fireflies and picnics.

How was your May?



The Odder, The Ender

I ended 2016 well and began 2017 better. My days were structured enough for work and loose enough for being present and available for my family. Quickly, though, I lost control of my days. That’s what happens when the school year, work, and volunteer obligations hit, as well as various minor childhood illnesses. It’s hard to wrangle words into meaning while sitting next to a child with a bad cold who just wants to watch tinkly kiddie shows and put her feet on your lap. For two days. After neither of you have slept.

Priorities, though.

I’m tiptoeing back to my schedule, as the work and volunteer pressures abate for a few days.

I’ve already been published once this year, and am about to submit two more pieces by the end of the week. I have four more already out and I’m waiting to hear responses. I am motivated and disciplined. Good combination.

So, as January is often a time I try new things that don’t involve breaking a sweat or eating things that taste like kale, look like kale, or are kale, I am giving bullet journaling a go.

I’m not a doodler, and I don’t consider myself much of a visual learner. Perhaps due to innate perfectionism, art classes intimidated me. I couldn’t, from an early age, get the crayon or pencil to form the images in my head. I didn’t know how to see. Family and teachers used to gently tease me about my handwriting (which is still pretty awful) and it stuck. I never was one to make the posters for projects or events. I don’t create that way. I create in music and words and yarn sometimes, and even then I still struggle to get the piece to be what it is in my head.

I was intimidated by art classes even as I grew into a bold (obnoxious?) college student. As an undergraduate, I had to take an art class. I enrolled in an “introductory” art history course, surrounded by people who had obviously already been introduced to all things Art-Capital-A. “Pointillism” came up in the first class; I had never even heard the word and I felt so dumb, so much a rube. The professor assumed that all the nodding heads meant everyone in the room understood not only the term but the finer points (forgive the pun) of the style.

There was a basic drawing class at the same time, so I switched. That class terrified me, too. Especially the week of nude sketching, which is another story for another time. But I passed. Sort of. I don’t think the instructor was looking for too much out of me other than my showing up and being able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of negative space.

So imagine my surprise when I decided January was going to be a trial period for bullet journaling for my writing and performance. I use a Franklin-Covey system for the rest of my life, which has been my go-to for over a decade now. It works for me, but was not working for my writing.

I stumbled upon the idea for a bullet journal on Pinterest (of course) while perusing at cool fonts and handwriting. I have a few (dozen) extra notebooks lying around, so I pulled one out and started. Being me, of course, I first researching how to use them and tentatively began copying some people’s styles and writing and bullets and banners.

Quickly, I fell in love. Hard. I’ve always tried to honor my art, but this journal puts it into physical form. The intention, the goal – those become art as well.

By now, I’m already figuring out what I need and what I don’t. Also, my moleskin notebook bleeds through, which is irritating as heck because I want pristine pages each time I turn, and that means I cannot use my good markers. Small problems easily solved. I have to wait, though because I am not wasting a notebook.


I check this journal/planner more than any system I’ve tried since embracing the writing life. I can see how people can lose a lot of time making it look pretty. I’ve already broken out the correction tape, so I want to make sure it doesn’t suck me into a perfectionism vortex.

I’ll see if it works for me or if I end up working for my bullet journal. Updates to come.

Something Completely Different:

I doubt I will look back at this time in our cultural history and dub it “The Good Old Days.” I’m sure I will speak of activism and struggle and learning, of intersectionality and a divided country. Of change unsettling in ways I’ve not before experienced. But dotting those big bold markers in my life are small wonders and joys.

Making this week special:

  • My daughter’s return to health after weeks of coughing and a few days of fever.
  • Slowing down and paying attention.
  • My kids’ enthusiasm over a chess match they participated in.
  • My twins still hug me and know when it’s most needed.
  • Reading aloud Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the second time with the kids just because revisiting a favorite book is a gift.
  • My husband grilling burgers (or anything).
  • My daughter’s curls (always).
  • Writing.
  • Decluttering.
  • Knitting.
  • My friend, K., who steadies me when I tip and who topples me when I’m too upright.
  • Hamilton.
  • The Sun Magazine: some of the best non-fiction, short fiction, and reporting I’ve enjoyed in a long time.
  • The Bobs. I’m heartsick that they are embarking on a farewell tour, but will move mountains to see them.
  • Austin Kleon has unbuckled my approach to work and his newsletter is one of the few I will open immediately upon its arrival in my inbox.
  • The 48-piece Ferrero Rocher box my brilliant husband got me for the holidays. I’m honestly surprised they’ve lasted this long. I’m also surprised I still fit into my pants.

Sometimes you find the art in the negative space.